Little can be done to regulate gas and oil industry at local level, legislator says

Richard Darbey/TheNewsOutlet.org

Aired September 21,2012 on WYSU

From Cincinnati to Mansfield to Niles and Weathersfield, Ohio’s cities and townships are clamping down on injection wells, essentially banning the saltwater disposal sites that accept wastewater from oilfield operations.

But the resolutions passed by council today may carry little to no weight as the state moves forward with permitting these wells.

Reporter Doug Livingston has more.

Two months ago, Ohio Representative Bob Hagan from the 60th district, sent a letter to Youngstown city council, urging them to ban injection wells.

Shortly after, Cincinnati council members proudly announced the first Ohio ban on wastewater injection wells.

Following Cincinnati’s lead, Mansfield has slated a “bill of rights” amendment on the November ballot. The legislation aims to protect water sources from potential contamination.

And most recently, Niles and Weathersfield Township in Trumbull County teamed up to prevent commercial property along state route 169 from becoming the cite of two injection wells. Niles and Weathersfield are the last players in a growing movement to ban injection wells across Ohio, but there’s only one problem, regulating oil and gas operations may be out of local governments’ control.

(Matt DeTemple: Saying that we’re gonna ban or try to regulate injection wells, you know, local government just doesn’t have that authority.)

That was attorney Matt DeTemple. He’s the executive director of the Ohio Township Association. DeTemple says that local governments lost the ability to regulate the gas and oil industry when former Republican governor Bob Taft signed a bill in 2004 giving regulatory authority to the state.

Representative Hagan said that sadly, there is little that can or is being done in Columbus to shift regulatory power back into local hands.

(Bob Hagan: It would take more than just one municipality or township. It would take a real movement of 10,000 people coming to the statehouse complaining about the fact that they lost that control.)

For the News Outlet, I’m Doug Livingston.